KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Top-ranked Tennessee baseball failed to capture another SEC series sweep in its loss to Georgia on Saturday afternoon.
Georgia's twin sluggers Cole and Connor Tate led a seventh-inning charge as the Bulldogs raced past the Vols, 8-3. Tennessee was held off the scoreboard for the final five innings of the contest.
Knoxville native Ben Joyce made his first career start for the Vols on Saturday. The junior tossed three shutout innings before allowing back-to-back home runs in the fourth. Chaney Rogers and Fernando Gonzalez's homers gave the Bulldogs their first lead of the contest.
"We got better because he was able to get out there and pitch a little bit," head coach Tony Vitello said on Joyce. "Now, it's time to let him do his thing. It's good he got some room to work with."
Joyce's four-inning outing tied his season-high for innings pitched.
Relief pitcher Kirby Connell came in for Joyce in the fifth inning, and pitched two perfect frames with five strikeouts.
"They were hunting the heater against Ben," Connell said. "With Ben throwing so hard and me not throwing so hard, it keeps them off balance a little bit."
The Vols got out to a 2-0 lead in the second inning after Luc Lipcius hit his second home run in as many games and 13th of the season. The Vols held that advantage until the top of the fourth, and did not lead again for the remainder of play.
Tennessee fell to 45-7 this season and 22-5 in SEC play. The Vols wrap up the regular season home schedule when they host in-state foe Belmont on Tuesday, May 17 at 6 p.m.